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Hoop Mama is the story of talented hoop dancer and introvert Lily Black. When Lily meets hoop instructor James Baker, her first instinct is to retreat. James sees possibilities within Lily that she had never imagined for herself. He encourages her to train for and enter a national hoop dance competition. But the path to potential victory is rocky

Chapter Eight


“You’ve got talent, Lily,” James continued, “A natural knack for hoop dancing. And now I know that you also have a deep love for it. I can already see after two lessons that you’re a quick learner. You see something, and boom! You’ve got it. I rarely, if ever, have seen that in any of my students. Seriously,” he said as he saw the look of doubt in her eyes, “And I have taught thousands of people.”

James took a deep breath before going on.

“You have all the things it takes to become a great hoop dancer someday. The talent, the intelligence, the passion. Hooping has helped you discover what I call your ‘true’ self. The one who isn’t in any certain role like mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee. I think you should go on to another level.” Lily shook her head slowly.

“I can’t do a hoop jam yet, James. It took all I had to even start these lessons.”

“I’m not talking about a hoop jam, Lily, although I would like to see you come to the one Saturday,” James said slowly, “I’m talking about signing up to compete in The Circle.” Lily gasped.

“What? The national hoop competition? You’re joking,” she replied, her voice raising an octave.

“No, Lily, I’m completely serious.”

He pulled his chair closer to her to prevent her from standing up and pulling away from him. “You have what it takes to go there this fall.” Lily covered her mouth with her hands.

“Oh no. No, no, no,” Lily said, feeling weak at just the thought of it. “You don’t understand, James, I get so nervous… I wanted to die right on the spot when you saw me a few weeks ago.”

“I know, Lily, I can read you like a book,” he replied, “But look where you are today! You can hoop in front of me, in front of the mirrors, in front of the camera. All that happened in such little time.” Lily shook her head vehemently.

“James, I have the worst stage fright.”

“I can help you get past that in the coming months. I’ll work with you two or three times a week, or more.”

“You can’t do that, James,” Lily said, “Don’t you travel on top of the local lessons?”

“Yeah, but I can work around all of that, Lily, and around your schedule, too. I’ll even come to Field’s Corner once in a while. And I won’t charge you a dime.”

“Oh, James, I couldn’t ask you to do all that. No way. I insist on paying you for lessons,” Lily said, her voice rising slightly.

“Okay, Lily, okay,” he reached out and touched her arm, and once again she saw the sincere look in his eyes. “But I want to do this for you. I believe in you.” Lily was so touched that she couldn’t speak. A lump formed in her throat and she had to fight back tears.

“You sound like my kids. And my best friend,” she finally said.

“Well, they’re pretty smart,” James said, squeezing her arm gently, “Can you at least think about it this week? Please?”

“James, I…” Lily didn’t know how to respond.

“Please,” he said simply. He let go of her arm and grinned wickedly.

“Maybe you can give me an answer when Kayla and I come over Friday evening for a hoop jam in your backyard.”

“Excuse me?” Lily couldn’t believe what she had heard.

“I think doing a mini hoop jam with some people you know will help you get ready for the real thing Saturday,” James continued, “Besides, Paula says you don’t go out on Friday evenings, and the weather looks perfect, so-”

“What?!” Lily stood up quickly, frowning, “Why do I feel like everyone is ganging up on me? Like my privacy has been completely invaded?” James suddenly wondered if he had pushed her too far.

“I will be the one to invite you to my house, and I will decide if I want to hoop in front of the world Saturday!” her voice was deep and angry, “You don’t know me, James, and you don’t run my life. Did you ever happen to think that maybe I’m perfectly happy with my life just the way it is? I have good friends, great parents, a decent job, wonderful kids. And I… used to have… the best husband.” James watched as a single tear fell down her cheek.

“I appreciate all that you offered, James, I really do,” she continued in a softer voice, “But I’m not the person you think I am.” Lily grabbed her things quickly.

“You’re right, Lily,” James said quietly, “You’re probably even better than what I think.” Lily shook her head slowly.

“I need to go,” Lily said. He nodded, his heart sinking with dread as he practically dragged his feet over to her.

“Okay. Wait. I’m sorry. Really.”

She only nodded with a sniffle.

“Will I see you next week?” he asked tentatively. Lily slowly looked up at him.

“Maybe.” Was all she said. And she hurried out the door.

‘Damn, damn, damn!’ James though furiously. He was convinced he would never see Lily again. Why had he stepped over the line like that?

‘What happened to treading lightly?’ He uttered a much stronger curse word out loud.

“So, that looked like a spectacular fail as the kids would say,” Kayla said as she opened the gym door.

“Ya think?” James asked angrily. He shoved one of the folding chairs to the side and almost knocked it over.

“What happened?” Kayla asked softly. He quickly relayed the conversation to her, pacing back and forth.

“So, instead of letting her gradually get used to the idea of hooping in front of other people, I basically shoved it down her throat,” he growled.

“She’ll calm down, James, and everything will be fine, eventually,” Kayla said, putting an arm around his shoulder.

“Really? How do you know?”

“‘Cause I’m a woman, in case you haven’t noticed,” she replied, “And, because she obviously loves hooping almost as much as you do. She’ll be back next week.” James could only hope Kayla was right. He desperately wanted to apologize to Lily again, but figured he had done enough damage already.

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Amy Shankland

Noblesville, USA

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